Peru’s Las Bambas copper mine gets expansion go ahead despite protests

Chinese-owned miner MMG Ltd has secured approval from Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines to expand its Las Bambas copper mine despite ongoing complaints from disgruntled local indigenous communities.

Since opening in 2016, the mine has been hit with protests and road blockades by members of Chumbivilcas communities, causing frequent suspensions to operations at the facility in the Apurimac region of Southern Peru.

Chumbivilcas – mostly indigenous Peruvians of Quechua descent – have repeatedly accused MMG of failing to provide jobs and investment to the region, despite the mine’s vast mineral wealth.

According to Peru’s Ministry of Mines and Energy, the company will invest US$130 million constructing the first phase of the Chalcobamba pit expansion. MMG said the work will result in a production increase at Las Bambas to around 380,000 to 400,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate per annum for the medium term.

The company added that Las Bambas ‘looks forward to working with the community of Huancuire’ to begin development in the coming months. Peru is the world’s second largest copper producer and Las Bambas alone produces 2% of global copper supply.